Marketing, marketing, marketing. If you’re in business or want to promote an event or organization then you know successful marketing is necessary. If you want to get in front of your community for low cost, a local parade might just be the key. So how do you go about finding when parades happen and then how do you prepare for one?
First of all, you can call your local Chamber of Commerce and local high schools. The Chamber will usually know the city events and if they don’t, they might direct you to a city web site or the right office to call. Local high schools usually have parades but we’ve had huge success walking in our hometown college homecoming parade. Ball State University has a huge parade and if you’re in a college town like us, call the Alumni Center and see when their homecoming is. Ask if local businesses can enter and if they can, find out the homecoming theme and who the opponent is. After that, fill out necessary paperwork and start planning.
You might ask if participating in parades is effective. That depends on your business but to us, it is!! Many potential clients saw us first in the parade. Some clients tell us they loved when we dressed up like Elvis or when one of my staff actually shook their hand and said hello. Since we’re a pet sitting business we always have a few dogs with us and they’re always a big hit. This year we had 6 pit bulls and a poodle named Peter who joined us in the parade. What a fabulous attention getter! Whatever it is you’re wanting to share, think outside the box and be creative. Give yourself a timeline to have things done and delegate tasks things go much smoother.
Below is list of key things I find important when planning to participate in a parade:
- Know the route. If you’re unfamiliar with the town, google it.
- Know the distance. If you aren’t used to walking a mile or more, chances are you’ll be uncomfortable.
- Dress appropriately. Wear layers if possible.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Wear sunblock.
- Bring water or other beverage, although we don’t recommend alcohol 🙂
- Make sure you have something in your belly, especially if you have low/high blood sugar.
- Have tons and I mean tons of advertising material to hand out. I never have enough and I’ve done this 5 years in a row!
- Have tons of candy and suckers.
- Smile and wave to the crowd.
- Stay towards the outside of the road when you’re passing out information. It makes it easier to actually look at people in the eye and smile.
- If you have a pet business like I do, hand out dog bones or dog toys and give them to people with dogs. They love getting a treat for their pal. Find something unique to your business or organization and get large quantities.
- Designate some people to throw candy, others to hand out advertising material and others to just walk, look pretty and wave.
- Get your drivers lined up ahead of time and have back-ups just in case they bail at the last minute.
- Have booming music playing. Doesn’t have to necessarily be top 40 hits, go with a theme, it’ll be fun.
- If you’re driving a vehicle in the parade, make sure it has plenty of gas, properly inflated tires and that everything else is functioning correctly.
- Have a vehicle or two at the end of the parade route in case people don’t want to walk back.
- Most importantly, have fun!! Don’t walk the parade route ignoring the people while you chat with your cohorts walking next to you. Mingle, mingle, mingle and make lots of eye contact.
Have you marketed your business in a local parade? Tell us your experiences and if you’ve gotten clients or business from it. I’d love to hear your success stories!